The NC General Assembly through the eyes of an intern

Sinthia Shabnam is a senior, double majoring in Political Science and Sociology.  During the summer of 2018 she interned at the North Carolina General Assembly. She worked for Representative Gale Adcock who represents the 41 District in Wake County during the 2018 short session. As an intern, she became familiar with the policy process in action and observed how members of the General Assembly worked with the public. She also experienced first-hand the activism by members of the public who protested and encouraged local legislators to address issues facing North Carolina. According to Sinthia, this internship motivates her to pursue the goal of running for office in the future to further the diversity of thought and action in the political sphere.

Sinthia describes her internship with in the NC General Assembly in the following reflection letter:

As an intern for Representative Adcock, I was able to see what issues were the most pressing amongst the representatives and senators, and I developed an idea of who goes through the effort to actually contact legislators by email, by phone, in person, and why. Researching different issues for Rep. Adcock has made me so much more knowledgeable about policy decisions that impact us in America, and specifically in North Carolina. I know much more about the EPA, more about nursing practice and how it’s treated by law, more about school boards and school performance in our district. I became aware of the governor’s role in policy decisions, as well as how much funding different areas receive, how taxes are used, and how often the budget is revised and by whom.

This internship provided me the opportunity to meet many of our legislators like Rep. Cynthia Ball and Rep. Grier Martin of Wake County. I was introduced to Senator Jay Chaudhuri, who got me in touch with Wake County Democratic Chairwoman Rebecca Lewellyn to work with the diversity task force. This networking opportunity allowed me to become the Social Media Director for the Wake County Democratic Party.

The internship also helped me establish great relationships with people who maintain the legislative building. I’ve learned much about law enforcement and military from the Sergeant at Armsnd the General Assembly Police, including how their perspectives on issues and the legislature changed over time. The men and women of housekeeping are also so kind, and I’m grateful for their service in maintaining this space. I met wonderful interns who are academic inspirations, socially and politically aware, intelligent, and reflective, and I’m so glad that I have more friends from different walks of life.

Policy has the power to reflect the core of who we are as North Carolinians when those decisions are made together. I witnessed how positions of power are capable of filtering through bills, how many bills die, why some bills are controversial. I learned how having caucuses help unify the party to be prepared for voting on the floor and to allow legislators to collaborate with peers. I found it very insightful to see a bill on the House floor and then see how it is discussed in the Senate. Committee meetings were very interesting, as they provide an ability to work on the specific details of a bill and allow those who might be impacted an opportunity to speak. I witnessed the relationship between media and politicians through press conferences. Finally, being at the General Assembly allowed me to witness many protests and see how some people are willing to educate their representatives on important issues. I respect the drive and willingness citizens have to stand up for what they believe in because their pursuit brings attention to otherwise unrecognized problems.

I come from a community that doesn’t quite understand how politics works, or how it impacts their lives – that the distance their children walk to the bus stop to how quickly roads get fixed are all issues legislators have the power to define. I am motivated to play a greater role in the intersections of society that I am in touch with, the Muslim and South Asian community (specifically the Bengali community), in educating them on why even just getting out to vote holds greater power than they currently see. I’m more motivated to solidify an action plan for myself, to strengthen my character, my pursuit of knowledge, and learning from people who are more experienced so that I can contribute to the well-being of others and the prosperity of our home. Achievement takes time, good decision making, and even a willingness to fail in order to learn. I know that I want to run for office one day to be involved in education policy, improved voting access, women’s rights, application of anti-discriminatory policy, and inclusive policies for all members of society.

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